How Much Protein Do Athletes Really Need?

Are you confused about the amount of protein you should be taking in a day? You are not the only one! There are a lot of different fads and diets out there involving protein and how much you should be consuming! But how much protein do you really need as an athlete?! The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, 0.8 g/kg of body weight per day, is to maintain nitrogen balance in the body for the average adult. A negative nitrogen balance would indicate that muscles are being broken down and used for energy, not something you want, especially for you hard working athletes! While keeping a good nitrogen balance is important for overall health, studies suggest that the RDA may not be the amount for optimal health. To achieve that, more protein may be required for the average person, even more for athletes! But the type of athlete you are is going to change the amount of protein you need. A general rule of thumb is 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg of body weight for endurance athletes and 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg of body weight for strength and power athletes says Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, a nutrition consultant in Louisville, Kentucky. The greater number of hours in training and the higher the intensity, the more protein is required. Other research have gone up to 2 g/kg of body weight to prevent muscles loss in athletes who have reduced their energy intake!

So, I can't give you a clear cut answer, however theses guidelines should do you well! Research is still being done on this very topic! Stay tuned for next week, and I can discuss if supplements are good idea or not!

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Drienie Grobbelaar